Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles' O-line gets help with Cowboys in town

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He’s only human. And when Jordan Mailata got hurt early in the Jaguars game and was replaced by Jack Driscoll, Andre Dillard couldn’t help think … It should have been me.

Dillard has been the Eagles’ backup left tackle since Mailata established himself as a top-level player. Opportunities to play are few and far between.

And this was one he couldn’t take advantage of.

“I definitely wished I was suited up at that moment,” he said at his locker Friday. “It was that fear-of-missing-out feeling, but I think Jack did amazing. He stepped in there and did a good job, so I’m really happy for him. But obviously, I want to get in there, too. My time will come when it comes.”

The Eagles activated Dillard from Injured Reserve to the active roster Saturday afternoon, six weeks after he suffered a broken arm at practice that required surgery.

With Mailata cleared to start at left tackle Sunday night against the Cowboys, Dillard will assume his usual role as backup left tackle, and Driscoll will go back to backing up right guard and right tackle.

“I’ve been hungry for it for a long time,” Dillard said. “I’ve been working my tail off every day to get back and healthy, stay strong, in shape. I had a good couple weeks of practice now, so I’m ready for whatever they got for me.”

Dillard hasn’t played since Aug. 27, when the Eagles finished the preseason against the Dolphins in Miami. He hasn’t played meaningful snaps since the Raiders game a year ago in Las Vegas.

It’s amazing that he’s even available to play in Week 6 after undergoing a pretty invasive procedure on Sept. 6.

“They made a five-inch incision or so and screwed in a metal plate onto the bone, like eight screws,” Dillard said. “So I have a pretty gnarly-looking scar there now.

(They’ll) never have to take it out. I’m kind of like a cyborg now.”

The Eagles cleared Dillard to begin practicing two weeks ago. They had 21 days to either activate him or shut him down for the year.

It’s one thing to be cleared medically. It’s another thing to get into football shape and be ready to block DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons if asked.

“It’s obviously challenging,” he said. “You have to work your tail off, but I’ve been working so hard to keep at it and really doing the extra conditioning after the practice and workouts and stuff.

“I feel good right now conditioning-wise and everything. I’m ready to roll.”

Dillard’s career hasn’t quite gone the way he expected when the Eagles made him the 22nd pick in the 2019 draft.

He’s started nine games filling in here and there, but he played well in five starts last year and had a strong training camp this past summer before getting hurt.

He’ll be a free agent this spring and should have some decent offers. He’s no Mailata, but he’s clearly better than a lot of left tackles out there.

But for now, he’s just happy to be back in uniform, back with his teammates, back on the field – at least for a few special teams snaps if nothing else.

That’s what he missed the most the last month and a half.

“Really, just really feeling like I’m part of the game,” he said. “When I’m on the sideline, I’m helping out however I can, but just being suited up, being out there ready to go whenever and just getting out there and making some blocks and really being with the team in that way.

“I’m really excited to do that again. Watching either on TV or the sideline, I’m like, man, I really miss it.”

To make room for Dillard on the 53-man roster, the Eagles placed defensive end Janarius Robinson on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury. The Eagles signed Robinson off the Vikings’ practice squad on Sept. 13 when they placed Derek Barnett on IR with a season-ending knee injury. Robinson has been inactive for all four games since he got here.

The Eagles on Saturday also elevated safety Andre Chachere from the practice squad for the Cowboys game and placed offensive tackle Jarrid Williams on practice squad Injured Reserve.

This is the third straight week the Eagles have elevated Chachere. He’s played 16 and 14 special teams snaps against the Jaguars and Cards. He hasn’t played on defense.

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